Sunday, April 12, 2015

Staying in chukar hunting shape

"How do you find the energy to hike those hills three times a week?" one of neighbors asked not too long ago. My answer was that I enjoy it so much it takes the work out of it. I've always felt I was in fairly decent shape until my hike with Barb and Jake today. I had Barb snap a picture of Jake pointing a ruff grouse with me behind him and when I got home and saw the picture I was wondering who the old fat man was that was with my dog. Barb informed me that the guy with the arthritic hands and belly to support the binos was indeed me. I thought about erasing the picture and then thought about how much fun I had today and decided to keep the picture and brag about Jake who was holding so well on the ruff.
I could take those opportunities when Barb is around to take my shirt off, suck in my gut and point at Jake with what little pecks and biceps I have left to impress the viewers but I think I'd get more laughs than anything else. I just figure that this picture shows the way it really is. I'm in as good of shape as most mid 60 males and I can get where I want to be on the mountain when I need to get there. It may not be the statue of atlas when I get to the top but I'll be there just the same.

I try and do as much stretching as possible, mainly on my back. My weight lifting program consist of moving hand lines or digging ditches around the property for me or some of my great neighbors. The only upper body strength I hope I ever need again is for packing out a limit of chukars and maybe a deer if I have to. But, I have another plan for my next deer or elk. I have taken several young men out in the last forty years to shoot a deer or elk and am hoping for a return favor for packing their animal out. If not, I'll figure that one out when it happens.

Chukar hunting is not a job for me. It is my entertainment. Therefore I am not a professional chukar hunter and don't have to train in a such a manner that I am guaranteed success. I believe I have been a professional at three things. I was a high school teacher and coach for a few years and an electrician until my retirement. I got paid for those jobs and was expected to perform in a professional manner which made me a professional at those occupations. Preparation was required to be successful.

Chukar hunting is my entertainment, not a job. I love being on the mountain and I love being with my dog or other people that enjoy the mountain as much as I do. I don't enjoy being in the gym anymore. I had enough of that in my younger days. I was an athlete in high school and ran track at Boise State College on a scholarship to pay my way. I spent several years after that buffing up and trying to impress my bride, Barbara but after a while found out she loved me with or without big biceps.

Over the years I had two knees replaced, a shoulder operation, a fall off a cliff that screwed my back up, was burned in a fire and spent a month in the hospital and several other incidents that required rehabilitation. I don't care to ever see a gym again.

What I do try to do to stay in shape is to walk often and stretch. Not walks around the block, but walks in the mountains in terrain like I usually hunt in.  I enjoy it because usually the ones I am walking or hiking with enjoy it even more than me. I enjoy watching their enthusiasm. Jake loves running the mountains and searching for birds but can be just as happy chasing a chipmonk up a pipe and waiting for him to show up on the other side.
Barb is also always there for me. She loves jaunts in the mountains, but doesn't care for the steep stuff so we usually stick to trails or logging roads. It doesn't matter to me because she's always willing to stay on the trail while Jake and I see what's up the ridge and then meet her back on the trail. Her excitement in seeing the animals that Jake and I encounter almost every trip makes my so called exercise walk down right fun.
And of course there is Conner, my grandson. He is the most enthusiastic 12 year old in the outdoors that I know. There is no place that I go that he can't and many places he'll go that I struggle to get to but I'll get there because I want to. Just yesterday, we hiked 3 miles before he shot this nice turkey.
It wasn't overly steep but we still gained about 1200 feet in elevation. As we hiked in the darkness, Conner laughed at me as he saw the drips of sweat dropping through the flash light beam as I was looking at my watch. I was getting a great workout but enjoying every minute of it. How often do you hear a person say he did some quickness work by dodging a skunk who was backing down the trail towards him. It's amazing how your lungs can burn after you've retreated uphill for 20 seconds  holding your breath at the same time.

At 12 years old, Conner decided to be a young man and pack his own trophy back to the truck. Now a twenty pound turkey doesn't sound like much but when you only weigh seventy five pounds and it's 2 and a half miles back to the truck carrying an awkward load that flops around makes it a tough task.
Plus we had to go over the top of this mountain first.
We made several stops along the way but Conner would not let me touch the bird except to hand it to me as we crossed over two fences. You can tell how tired we were after our hard workout by this picture Barb took when we returned home.
The only one dissapointed was Jake. He got left behind on this trip. 

I said when I began this blog that it wouldn't be about me, but somehow it wasn't possible to say what I do for conditioning without including me. So I'll try and leave me out of the picture from now on. Just let me conclude by listing my workouts for this week. Monday, Jake and I will be doing yard work and watching Conner's baseball game in the evening. Tuesday, I'm going to help my son wire his house. Wednesday, is the adult opener for turkey, so I'll be taking a jaunt somewhere looking for a bird without Jake. Thursday, Jake and I will be taking another jaunt in the mountains to see what we can see before heading to another Conner baseball game. Friday, depending on my success on Wednesday may find me on another mountain trying to find a turkey or Jake and I just doing some scouting. By the end of the week, my muscles may not be bulging but I'll be in the kind of condition I need to be in to do what I love.